Things I Buy and Don't Buy


I remember that the best days of my life were the ones when I had very few possessions, like when I was living in Beijing, China, back in the 1980s and early 1990s. Now we have so much stuff! I like to list an inventory of things that I buy most often and the things I don't buy anymore. Hopefully, in the future when I look back on this post, it'll be a reminder of how things have changed for the better.

Things I buy often (every week - 1 year):

  • Housing expenses - I pay rent, utilities, internet, and phone bill on a monthly basis. This is my biggest spending category.
  • Food - Most of my groceries consist of fresh vegetables and fruits. I stopped buying processed meats and meats in general due to the massive amounts of chemicals they inject into animals. I also don't buy frozen meals because they are processed. The only frozen foods I buy are ice cream and wild caught seafood.
  • Hygienic items - I buy tooth paste, tooth brush heads (for my electric tooth brush), toilet paper, shampoo, and soap when I need them. I'm considering making my own soap soon since I'm trying to eat healthy and don't want to consume too much man-made chemicals in my body.
  • Car expenses - I buy gasoline about once a month these days (when I went to work it was twice a month). Insurance, oil change, inspection, and maintenance are paid when they are due.
  • Restaurants - I spend about $100 per month for eating out. This year, it's been less due to the pandemic.
  • Traveling expenses - I love to travel, but this year I didn't do much because of the pandemic. My goal for traveling is that I should average 30 days out of each year for traveling. I started this goal in 2013. I don't have a set amount for traveling so it all depends on where I want to go and what I want to do.
  • Shopping budget - I give myself a wiggle room of $100 per month for things I want on a whim or for anything that I need to save up. This also includes gifts for others.
  • ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) - I try to invest some money into an ETF through Vanguard on a monthly basis. The ETF that I buy is VGT. It's the Vanguard IT ETF that has the most returns I've seen for an ETF. I used to buy stocks through Robinhood and ETFs on Betterment and Wealthfront, but I had to roll them over to Vanguard. It's hard for me to trade stocks due to preclearance approval so I don't buy stocks anymore.

Things I rarely buy (2 - 4 years):

  • Clothes - I just don't see the point of constantly buying clothes when they last a long time. I still have clothes that I wear today from my high school and college days. That's over 15 years ago. For work, though, I purchased some dress shirts last year, but I don't plan on buying any more of them.
  • Shoes - I noticed a good pair of shoes can last a year to two years if I wear them every day. I have multiple pairs of shoes and have trouble storing them. Until I wear them out, I don't plan on buying shoes for at least another two years.
  • Movie tickets - I rarely watch movies as it is. It's even rarer for me to go to a theater and watch the latest blockbuster. I just don't buy things that don't interest me much.
  • Cell phone - A good cell phone can last over 4 years. I don't even buy the most expensive ones. My current phone is a Google Pixel 2 that I bought in late 2017. My previous smart phones were iPhones that were a couple generation older than the ones that came out at the time. I'm not suggesting to get a cheap phone. For something that I use every day, it should be durable, fast, and not too expensive. One reason I switched to Android is because Apple charges way too much for their phones these days. I love my Pixel 2. It's still fast and pleasant to use. I plan on keeping it for at least two more years.
  • Computer - The last time I bought a new computer for myself was in 2009. It was a 13-inch MacBook Pro. I had that computer for 7 years! Then I realized that if I buy used it's the same product for much cheaper. My current MacBook is a used one I bought on Craigslist in 2018. It's the 2017 model with top of the line specs. All for $1000, a 40% discount if that computer was bought new. I plan to keep this computer for at least 3 more years because it's so light and easy to use. 
  • Car - Though I love the look of some cars, such as a Ferrari, I hate to buy one. In fact, I've never bought a car from a dealership. My current car is a 2007 Honda Accord and I bought it from my parents in 2016. It currently has about 110,000 miles. I will always buy a used car, especially a Honda or a Toyota. I joked with my co-worker that if he sees me with a new car that means I've gone crazy.
  • Bicycle - I bought my current Trek Checkpoint ALR4 bicycle last year. I haven't been in touch with bicycle technology for about 20 years. When I was looking to buy a bicycle to replace my 1999 Cannondale M400 I was shocked at the prices of the current line of bicycles. A good one costs thousands of dollars. Mine was $850 used and I bought it locally on Facebook. With the increase demand of bicycles these days, I can resell it for over $1000 at least, but I'm not going to. I don't plan on buying another bicycle for at least 10 more years.

Things I don't buy:

  • Bottled water - I want to do my best to decrease plastic use and I just don't see the point of buying water when water is drinkable in most areas in the US. I have a water filter and I replace the cartridges twice a year.
  • Memberships and subscriptions - I don't like when companies want to constantly charge me on a monthly basis. That's why I don't get Netflix or any streaming service, including Spotify and such. I also stopped using Adobe products because they want to charge me for their software on a subscription model. I paused my Misfits Markets subscription (from my previous post) once I realized that organic foods tend to rot faster. I also don't have a gym membership or any kind of memberships. This is my way of defending corporations that wants my money.
  • Haircuts - I've been cutting my hair since I was in my early teens. I didn't realize how much time and money it would save me in the long run at the time. I just didn't want to spend an hour or two at the barber shop. The last time I was there back in the late 1990s, I waited for over an hour. When it was my turn to be on the chair some business man decided to cut in front of me, a kid at the time, so I had to wait longer. Plus, the fact that most barbers don't know how to cut an Asian man's hair contributed to my decision to DIY.
  • Lottery tickets - A complete waste of money! Why don't I just throw my money down the drain. This goes for any kind of gambling. Unless I study Blackjack or Texas Hold'em and do well at these games I'm not even going to bother. Also notice how people always brag about their winnings and never about their loses. I lost over $400 when I was at the casino on a cruise ship back in 2008. There's my bragging.
  • Digital camera - Once I realized that smart phone cameras are more convenient to use and sharing a photo is much easier on a phone than through a DSLR, I sold my bulky Nikon D7500. I also became less interested in photography over the years due to the fact that most great photographs are manipulated and there's the constant cost of upgrading to the latest camera and software.
  • Printer - If I need something to be printed I spend 15 cents at the local library. The fact is that I don't print much since most things are digital anyway. I also don't like the fact that the cost of printer cartridges are more than the cost of the printer over a short period of time.
  • Video game consoles and computer games - I still have my slim PlayStation 3 from 2013 and a few games, some of them I never even opened. The last computer games I bought was Civilization V and Stardew Valley. I've only played 8 hours of each game. I'm not a big gamer compared to when I was in high school. That period is over for me. My interests have shifted so there's no need to spend money on the things I don't enjoy.
  • Useless things - If it's not essential, but more of a status statement, I don't buy. These include dumb things like napkin holders, which I find to be a luxury and not necessary. Another dumb thing is a tongue scraper. I actually have one, but never used it. The worst thing I've seen some people buy is a roller for the end of the tooth paste tube so that you can easily squeeze out the tooth paste. Dumbest thing ever!